Horizon – Beyond Belief – For The Love Of Lunar Conspiracy – tape 2371

First on this tape is an episode of Horizon, the third of three programmes in a series about Ice Mummies. This is the third in the sequence, Frozen in Heaven.

I love this guy. You wonder if the production team asked him if he wanted to take off his close-up specs, and he said “Hell no, they make me look cool.”

William Conklin

BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 21 December 1997 21.30

Following Horizon, recording switches to LWT, for the second live edition of Beyond Belief, David’s Frost’s credulous woo-fest which purports to examine claims of the supernatural, but in fact embraces them whole-heartedly. The first episode was examined here.

All the usual suspects return. Uri Geller, who promises some remote viewing “which I’ve done lots of times for the CIA”.

Frost:Geller

 

Geller’s first stunt is to move a compass needle, one of his standard effects.

Also returning from the previous programme is Matthew Manning, who promises automatic writing. His first stunt is to use ‘healing’ for pain management. A woman is asked to put her hand into ice water for as long as possible. Then, while Manning does some kinf of psychic healing, she puts her other hand in to see if she can do it for longer. She manages much longer the second time, and reports ‘an intense heat coming down her arm.’

Ice Torture

Another returnee is the Russian psychic Boris Tulchinsky who this time does a similar blindfolded trick as last time. This time he can ‘feel’ the colours worn by members of the audience.

Boris Tulchinsky

Since I’ve seen someone drive a car at speed round an obstacle course which blindfolded in an even more elaborate way, frankly this isn’t that impressive.

In the second part, Uri Geller sets up another phone-in vote, this time with colours. Here’s the colours that you could have chosen. I’ll reveal the one he chose later.

Uri's Choice

Then Matthew Manning does one of the most boring demonstrations of automatic writing. He’s given the birthdates of some audience members, and does some automatic writing, supposed to be the writing of a doctor diagnosing the ailments of the given audience member. He does this twice, taking several minutes each to write out long diagnoses, and they are read out to the audience member whose birthdate was chosen. And both are almost complete misses. The first had no hits at all, and the second only recognised one ailment, and that was poor circulation. This was fairly terrible, but at least it shows this wasn’t faked.

Matthew Manning Automatic Writing

Then Uri does some remote viewing with a man in America. He was supposed to be on the roof of a building, looking at a ‘striking scene’, but the weather had forced him inside, so he had to stare at a photo instead. Here’s Uri’s drawing of what he ‘received’.

Uri's Picture

And here’s the scene the sender was looking at.

Monument

An amazing result, I’m sure you’ll agree. And there’s obviously no possible way Uri could have known what he would be looking at ahead of time. You can’t explain this, skeptics.

In the next part, there’s Coral Poll who draws pictures of people who have died.

I draw dead people

She and her medium partner, who does the usual throwing out of names, were far more successful, getting two good hits from two pictures.

Next, Uri reveals which colour he chose – it was red, as I suspected it would be, since statistically, people don’t choose the first or last, or the middle, and tend to prefer the 2nd to the fourth item. Thus, red.

Then, they have the most ludicrous segment on the show. Uri Geller, in a fetching yellow wetsuit, is immersed in a water tank and has to send telepathic messages to the blindfolded Boris Tulchinsky, who then has to stumble around the studio and retrieve some red roses from the makeup room. Which he manages to fluff by only bringing back one rose. Perhaps his translator fluffed when tipping him off about what to do.

Uri Underwater

This is much the same lot of nonsense as the first programme – worse in some ways, as there wasn’t even the pretence of having any controls or skeptical observers. This is pure entertainment with no attempt at skeptical scrutiny. Shameless.

But the stupid doesn’t stop there. After this programme, recording switches, and we’re greeted by the lovely Jon Ronson, with a round table of Moon Landing deniers, in For The Love Of Lunar Conspiracy.

This was my first encounter with the phenomenon, and I watched with amazement as six grown up people discussed, with great seriousness, all the many reasons why the moon landings never happened.

Here’s the rogue’s gallery of deniers, starting with David Percy, author of Dark Moon.

David Percy

His co-author, Mary Bennett

Mary Bennett

Matthew Williams, whose expertise isn’t cited

Matthew Williams

 

Andy Thomas

Andy Thomas

Marcus Allen

Marcus Allen

 

and Barry Reynolds.

Barry Reynolds

This is the kind of programme that could only have been made when it was. Nowadays, every single argument put forward can be thoroughly debunked, and has been in numerous places on the internet.

Percy’s area of expertise is that he’s a filmmaker and photographer, so he talks a lot about how the photos from the landings are full of ‘anomalies’ – shadows that shouldn’t be there, things that should be in shadow but appear to have a ‘fill light’ and loads of things that are supposedly at the wrong angles.

Nasa pictures

The deniers like to talk a lot about how deadly the radiation in space is, and in the Van Allen belts that the craft would have to pass through in order to travel to the moon. The idea that the ship would need five feet of lead shielding is thrown around as if it’s absolute truth, and because of the format there’s nobody there to question these claims. Here’s what one expert thinks of these claims:

James Van Allen

Yes that’s right, the discoverer of the Van Allen belts doesn’t think much of the deniers’ theories.

 

Percy also talks about how movies have hinted at the real truth. There’s a scene in ‘A James Bond move’ – he can’t even be bothered to learn which one (it’s Diamonds are Forever) – where Bond asks somone in a lab if he can ‘examine the radiation shielding’ and then goes into another room where two men in space suits are walking on a moon surface film set. His contention is that this was deliberately inserted into the movie to hint at the truth, by technicians who worked on the hoax.

He also cites that other rigorous scientific document, Independence Day. One character talks about the Roswell incident, which took place in 1947, and says it happened ‘in the 50s’. “Now I don’t think this is sloppy researching, I think it’s deliberate confusing.”

Yeah, because Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin are otherwise spot on with all the other science in the movie.

It gets even worse, when Mary Bennett then starts citing Dark Skies and says they try to insinuate the navy was involved ‘when the Navy was nowhere near.’

These are people with a rather shaky grasp on fact and fiction.

If you want a good source of debunking of these theories, Clavius Base is a good place to start. They also link to a great article by NVidia where they decided to test out their latest graphics cards, which does accurate real-time global illumination with accurate reflections, by simulating the scene where Buzz Aldrin is descending to the surface, and they found that by simply simulating the environment, and using only the sun as the single light source, all of the fill light is generated by reflections from the lander, from the moon surface, and from Armstrong’s highly refflective space suit.

Its amusing that, as the programme progresses, the conspiracists occasionally clash over which bit of nonsense they happen to believe, because of course they all have different theories on which bits happened and how.

Throughout this programme, Jon Ronson is a perfect host. He remains straightfaced throughout. He’s written at length about all sorts of conspiracy theorists, and has a great affection for them, without necessarily embracing the theories themselves, so he lets the people talk, and doesn’t attempt to provide any rebuttal. The first time I watched this, I was quite angry – the whole moon hoax nonsense makes me angry in general – and I wanted someone to put the contrary view, but I’m slightly more relaxed now, as it works in this format as a document. Plus, Ive met Jon Ronson and spoken to him at some length about these sorts of things, and he’s lovely, and it’s clear that he genuinely likes all these people with their strange views, without ever having to accept their world view himself.

Enjoy it.

Credit spot: Title Sequence was by Adam Buxton.

Following this, recording switches to the Sci Fi channel for Plan of Attack: The Making of Mars Attacks. It’s all a bit gosh-wow isn’t this all wonderful.

After this, we continue with an episode of Tales of the Unexpected called A Passing Opportunity starring George Sewell and Charles Keating.

After this, there’s 100 Years of Horror, with a segment o Aliens, presented by Christopher Lee.

Christopher Lee

 

This is actually rather a good show, with a lot of interviews from people who aren’t normally interviewed. When was the last time you saw Bernard Gordon, screenwriter of Earth vs the Flying Saucers.

Bernard Gordon

After this programme, we get maybe two minutes of an episode of Night Gallery before the tape runs out.

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